Lisa Loeb has Ethan Hawke to thank for her big break.
The singer-songwriter, who lived across the street from the actor in New York City in the mid-'90s, passed him a copy of her single "Stay (I Missed You)" while he was working on the 1994 Gen X classic "Reality Bites." Director Ben Stiller took a listen, decided to use the song during the movie's closing credits, and Loeb's career was born. She became the first artist to have a No. 1 hit song without having a recording contract.
"It's funny how it has become this iconic song for a specific time," Loeb said in a 2013 interview with Moment Magazine. "When a song is popular and people connect to it, they don't ever stop connecting; it brings back memories while still being timeless."
Loeb will perform an acoustic show - just her and her guitar - Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Peak 31 at Union Station.
The singer, who's almost as famous for her distinctive eye wear as her music, seemed to drop off the map in the 2000s after releasing a few albums, including the 1997 Grammy Award-nominated "Firecracker." Fans with kids, though, knew exactly where she was - making music for the younger set.
"When I look back at it, I probably don't make music for kids as much as for myself and my friends," Loeb said from her home in Dallas. "In the '70s I liked listening to a lot of disco, classical music, The Beatles, TV entertainment like Carol Burnett, the Muppets, 'Sesame Street.' It was silly, but they also had heart and storytelling."
Loeb began to craft child-friendly tunes even before she had kids; she now has two. Her first release, the award-winning children's CD and companion book "Catch the Moon," was released in 2003 and followed by a string of kid-friendly albums, including last year's "Feel What You Feel."
Grown-up folks need not worry that her upcoming show is for kids - Loeb will perform mostly material from her grown-up catalog, though she likes to throw in a couple of her children's songs to keep it lighthearted.
"It's fun to get to tell stories," she said. "Even on the newest record there are lessons about life that are fun to sing about embedded in real songs. It's more of a record that I'd make in the '70s. It's considered more of a family-friendly than kids record. A lot of my records are like that."
She still writes music for adults but keeps getting sidetracked by contract offers for kids albums, including one from Amazon that's set for release later this year.
Music is music to Loeb. She's not one to categorize her songs and thinks they're often interchangeable between genres. Mostly she falls back on a singular approach that seems to have worked throughout her career: Ignore what everybody else is doing and follow your own instincts.
"I go with what's in my heart," she said. "I don't write for any particular audience. The best music comes from the musician's heart, from your instinct."